DRC_Jennifer Rubin

Jennifer Rubin

Politico reports: “Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Friday quashed the idea of him launching a presidential run, arguing there is ‘no path’ to the White House for him in 2020.

“’I don’t see a way to get there,’ said Kasich, one of Trump’s challengers in the 2016 Republican primary. The former governor claimed on CNN that 90% of GOP voters support the president’s reelection efforts.”

Kasich leaves open the possibility that things may change. (“We never know what the future is going to bring,” he says.) However, if considerable evidence of obstruction, of President Donald Trump and his cronies persistently encouraging a hostile power to interfere in our elections, and of his nonstop lying about his ties to Russia didn’t wake up Republicans, nothing will.

Sadly, Kasich may be right. Trump’s approval rating among Republicans remains sky-high. The release of special counsel Robert Mueller III’s report did not pry sycophantic Republicans away from Trump, nor did Mueller’s statement this past week, which served to outrage formerly respectable Republicans who insisted Mueller had an obligation to shut up while Trump and the attorney general misrepresented his work. A single elected Republican is calling for Trump’s impeachment, and he’s being treated as a progressive (Rep. Justin Amash?!) out to make a name for himself. (How exactly is this supposed to benefit the Michigan congressman’s career?)

That does not mean Kasich and similarly appalled Republicans should do nothing. Let me suggest five activities that #NeverTrump Republicans might take. These are not mutually exclusive, and, in fact, they should by all means be pursued with equal vigor.

First, do whatever they can to support former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld in New Hampshire (his best and perhaps only shot to break through) — including providing endorsements and reaching out to independents who can choose to vote in the Republicans primary.

Second, encourage a series of favorite sons and daughters into races to pry primary delegates away from Trump. One of them may catch fire but, in any event it would earn them a ticket to the convention where — who knows? — lightning may strike. Amash, former Gov. Mitch Daniels in Indiana, former Sen. Jon Kyl in Arizona and others could at the very least carry the message to Republicans of the moral, constitutional and political debacle that would unfold if Trump were to run and win — or worse, from the standpoint of loyal Republicans, run and lose so badly as to take down the entire party.

Third, Kasich and other well-known Republicans should join the campaign to teach America what is in the Mueller report. Make ads, hold conferences, go on local news and so on. The attitude of Republicans inside the Beltway — currently, pure sycophancy — will only change if voters start agitating. Likewise, #NeverTrump Republicans might consider primary challenges against some of the president’s worst enablers in the Senate — e.g., Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, David Perdue of Georgia, John Cornyn of Texas. Those who were around during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment might be especially effective.

Fourth, if a primary challenge proves futile, support the Democratic candidate closest to the center with the best chance to win. Many states have open primaries that do not require one to re-register. If one is firmly of the belief that Trump is a threat to our constitutional democracy, and would be worse if reelected, other policy differences simply have to be put aside.

Finally, in the general election, if Trump is the nominee, he must be defeated. Period. There will be no excuse that “Hillary Clinton is worse.” If you vote for the racist, lawless liar, you own his racism, his lawlessness (including, almost inevitably, major assaults against the Constitution) and his lies.

For some Republicans and former Republicans, it will mean a vote for the Democratic nominee. Other conscientious and patriotic Republicans who would otherwise vote for Trump (perhaps they did in 2016), especially those in noncompetitive states, may choose to leave the presidential ballot blank or vote for a third-party candidate. Understand, however, that the choice will essentially be a binary one: A vote for anyone who has no chance to win diminishes the vote total of the only candidate who will be able to defeat Trump in 2020: the Democrat.

None of these choices are pleasant ones, but that is the consequence of electing Trump president and refusing to demand his impeachment and removal. If nothing else, this should serve as a reminder that the easiest and most honorable course would in fact be Trump’s impeachment and removal from office.

JENNIFER RUBIN writes the Right Turn blog for The Washington Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.

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